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I'm reading about repositories in debian and i've found backports.

But it sounds strange for me. I feel word back to be indicating older stable versions that are more compatible with less frequently updated programs.

So why it's called backports?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It's not about older stable versions, but still: stable means, that this version is not to be changed anymore. Debian includes new versions into experimental/unstable and maybe into testing. Some really important programs (like iceweasle ;) are also "backported" into the already stable versions (if you like back to the old testing). So that people who feel unwanting to use something less stable, still don't have to wait a whole year for the program.

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It helps to understand what the action of porting software means. From Wikipedia,

porting is the process of adapting software so that an executable program can be created for a computing environment that is different from the one for which it was originally designed

(My emphasis added on the word different).

The back in backporting denotes the porting of current software backwards to run on an older platform environment, like Debian Stable.

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